Marcel stood in line at the local convenience store, sweating bullets. He didn’t like people in the best of times, and this damn sure wasn’t one of them. The place was packed and the line was long. It had taken him all day to get up the courage to get this far, and he was ready to bolt for the door at any moment. As he was about to leave, a new line opened and the big lady with the beautiful eyes looked at him and said, “Next”. He knew every eye in the store was on him, staring holes through his back, even though no one looked like they were looking at him. Tricks! Yes, they were all very tricky.
This was the last number. He pulled up the sleeve on his third shirt, underneath his two coats and saw the last number, 23, that was not crossed off on his arm in different colors of ink. He had crossed out the other six numbers on his arm. For the last six days he had come into this very store and was waited on by this very clerk, the big girl with the beautiful eyes. He liked her. Not in a Hoochie-Koochie kind of way. That was gross, it was more like a friendship. He had a friend once and she had the same beautiful eyes, although she wasn’t big. He didn’t care what people looked like on the outside. You are what your heart says you are, and that’s all you will ever really be, anyway.
He side-stepped to the front of the counter and Sheri, according to her name tag, looked at him and said, “OK Marcel, what number today? Go ahead and break-out the change sweetheart, no fussing today, I’m in a good mood”. For the last five days, he had given her a handful of change that she would have to stop and count. Mostly pennies, nickels and dimes, all to make a dollar. The first few days he had gotten the “look” that said “I’m busy asshole”, but today he surprised her. He handed her a crumpled up dollar bill. It was his “suicide dollar”, to be used only in case of an emergency. He had been saving it for hard times and today qualified because it was the last day to get the last number. In six hours, they were going to draw the winning numbers.
Seven days before, he had a dream about numbers. Not just any numbers mind you, but Lotto numbers. He awoke before dark, as usual, and not having a pencil or pen to write the numbers down, began running helter skelter, asking anyone and everyone for a pen or pencil. Just when he thought he would forget the numbers, a young girl who often gave him change gave him her pen. It was red ink, and he quickly pulled up his sleeves and wrote 19, 37, 4, 27, 49, skipping a space and writing 23, with a circle for the Power-Ball on his arm. He thought it was 23, but it could have been 25, 27, 29, 22, or 26, he couldn’t remember, so he wrote them all down.
Everyday he bought a lotto ticket, and everyday he crossed out a number. Today, the last number was 23 and he had 6 tickets for tonight’s drawing for one of the biggest jackpots in history. Not the largest, but $360 million could buy a lot of warm socks. It was the Power-Ball and people across the nation were lining-up and waiting to purchase Lotto tickets. People were buying hundreds of tickets for a 1 in 379 million chance to win this very elusive jackpot. Marcel knew he had the winning ticket. He had these dreams often and they always came true, but this was the first time he had ever bought tickets. Marcel didn’t believe in gambling.
Marcel lived in a trash dump and slept during the day because sleeping at night was very dangerous. Twice he had been hospitalized, and once almost killed by some young thugs who got their kicks off by beating up homeless people. He identified them to the police, but nothing was ever done. One of the boys was the mayor’s nephew and of course, it was quickly swept under the rug.
He now kept his eyes open and hid when people came around at night. He found he liked sleeping during the day, when there were less people he had to deal with. Sometimes, besides being polite and saying “thank you” to someone he begged from, he didn’t have to speak to anyone all day. You never knew when “one of them” would pop up and kill everyone. They were a very tricky race of people, but they couldn’t fool him.
When he won the Lotto tonight, he was going to give the money to a little girl who needed a kidney. Her family had no money to pay for the operation, or even a place to live. They were called “illegals”, although Marcel didn’t see where they had done anything illegal. Her father was leaning on his trash container, waiting and hoping someone would pick him up to do some kind of work. This was how he found out about the little girl. He was almost asleep when the smell of smoke from cigarettes, along with two men talking woke him up. One man had an accent and was trying to talk through his tears. His daughter was going to die soon if she didn’t have an operation. Tears also fell from Marcel’s eye’s as he listened.
He then read a day old newspaper that featured the little girl and it also said she was going to die without a new kidney. While he thought gambling was a sin, this really wasn’t a gamble. He dreamed of the future all the time. Super bowl winners, World Series winners and even the Kentucky Derby winners, and he had never even petted a horse. He dreamed of Lotto tickets all the time, but had never bought one. He didn’t need anything, and really, that would be cheating. But he thought if he could save the girl it would be faith, and maybe God would forgive him this one time.
He would have to figure out how to get the tickets to her parents, without getting involved. He couldn’t let anyone, especially the Tricksters, know where he lived. The Tricksters had been looking for him for a very long time and there had been some very close calls. He could see a Trickster before they could see him and it had kept him alive many, many times. The Tricksters had a yellow glow around them that only he could see, it seemed. They were from another universe and were here to take over this world. For years he tried to tell people, but, no one believed him.
The next day, after the Lotto numbers came in and he saw he had won, the little girl’s father was standing beside his container, looking for some kind of work with two other men. He came up behind him, tapped him on the shoulder and handed him the winning ticket.
He said only “I think you dropped this” and ran off. He stayed away from his usual container for days. He heard many people talking about the miracle. The little girl would get her operation when they found a kidney, but until then, she would stay alive on some kind of machine. But there were also many people trying to take the money away from her father. They were saying because he was not born in America and was an illegal alien, he didn’t deserve the money. Marcel knew he wasn’t an illegal alien. Aliens had a yellow glow around them.
Kenneth Sibbett lives and breathes the South. Although born and living in North Carolina, he has lived all over the world. When young, he thumbed and walked across America and Europe. Many of his experiences come from meeting thousands of different people, with his thumb out. Older now, he stays closer to home and writes short stories, fiction and non-fiction, poetry and is editing his first novel, hopefully to be published before Hell freezes over. He has a popular blog at http://open.salon.com/blog/scanner. Come, put your feet up, and stay awhile.blog comments powered by Disqus